Riga Sprats in oil: the Chekists pay, the fascists play21.09.2020
The beneficiary has made another payment to the KGB officer, so he can proudly continue his project – the one that political experts call soft power, philologists call a team, archeologists call a Soviet era artifact and venereal disease doctors call an unexplainable transmissive phenomenon that has nothing to do with ideological beliefs. The pro-Kremlin soft power project – ice hockey team Dinamo Riga have a new coach and new uniforms, but this doesn’t guarantee them success on the ice. But this time I will leave the ice for bartenders.
Russian hockey fans call Dinamo Riga sprats, thus proving the popularity of the product in the East. They also call the team fascists. For instance, in Yaroslavl, where good hockey is played, all Latvians are and always will be damned murderers. All those memories of the last civil war, when in this city the Red Latvian Riflemen killed half of Russian families there…
There is no need to discuss whether we need Dinamo Riga if we understand two things: 1) Latvia cannot afford such a project; 2) if the Russians are that dumb to give, we should take. By giving I mean that some of our players can really benefit from this. Our players are gaining beneficial experience in a hockey superpower and becoming better. It’s a win for Latvian hockey. But why do Russians need it? They don’t, but after the Soviet Army left the territory of Latvia, they left behind Soviet special services that at particular times have been able to influence our political agenda (fifth column) and our economy (privatization). And God knows what these people are doing right now.
Initially, there was the idea that all costs of the club will be eventually covered by the Latvian state budget, but this trick didn’t go so well. Of course, if we look deeper in the procurements of gas from Russia or the club’s “soft” shareholders who have been able to secure substantial state procurements (constructions, public bus services, etc.) it becomes evident that we are the ones (Latvian tax-payers) paying. But the reality is that every spring the former KGB recruiting agent Juris Savickis is still obliged to stand at the Kremlin’s gates and beg the Lord Putin for money.
This year, Savickis acquired the rights to organize the Continental Hockey League’s (KHL) All-Star Game, which made the Russians hostages: “We need money not only for the team, but also to hold a true hockey celebration.” What else? Now, we are employing Russian hockey players. And, judging by the last few seasons, this isn’t a decision made by the coaches, but instead a demand by the main treasurer. Russians need clear arguments when an oral performance takes place. What else? Of course, then there’s politics, because Dinamo is the first and foremost about the politics, and only then about actual hockey. If you don’t believe me, just ask the politically washed up puppet former pro-Kremlin Latvian president Guntis Ulmanis, who receives a monthly salary and reminisces about the time he had access to state secrets. But, if the age is a problem, there’s always the possibility to attract younger workers.
The double polka performed by the Latvian neo-Marxist Edgars Jaunups on the Skanste street looked very sincere. Not that long ago, the man behind the basketball team VEF revealed that the basketball club is sponsored by…the hockey club Dinamo Riga. And this summer, Savickis tasked Jaunups with creating disturbances in the reelection session of the Latvian Olympic Committee’s General Assembly. Jaunups was there as the official representative of the federation lead by Savickis. So, it is only natural that the political parties that are orchestrated by Jaunups will be handing out favors to his friends. We shouldn’t be surprised if suddenly one of the municipally owned corporations becomes a hockey sponsor or – in the worst case – purchases a spot in the Arena Riga to improve public relations. Yes, the arena is owned by Savickis, who dared to ask the Ministry of Culture for a compensation for services that were never provided.
We can also laugh a little at the desperation of Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, when he disagreed with Minister of Health Ilze Viņķele about increasing the number of people allowed to gather inside. All spring, the nimble lady was strict and unyielding, but then one day in August she suddenly changed her mind. I will remind you that Ilze is playing on Jaunups’ and Savickis’ team. Of course, we should give money to sports and culture because the money will be stolen anyway. I agree, this is the same situation as it was with the privatization of one of the biggest Latvian energy companies Latvijas Gāze.
Let’s return to hockey and sprats. Do you remember how all spring and half the summer Savickis allowed hockey expert Guntars Paste to work on the image of Dinamo Riga? At first, it looked as if someone is staging a comedy and one lucky person has finally found a cure for a general lack of attention. At some point Paste even believed his role, and Savickis neither denied, nor confirmed this. Until the day he got the money from the Russians and the head coach was named. When the current Dinamo Riga coach Pēteris Skudra appeared on the stage, Paste suddenly disappeared.
Undeniably, Skudra is a good coach for Dinamo Riga. There is no doubt that he will be able to fulfill his hockey duties, for which he has been given quite substantial authority. But this is where the hockey ends, because Savickis hasn’t hidden the other participants of the last supper anywhere far. When Skudra first attempted to step into the organization some ten years ago, for a brief moment becoming the advisor to Savickis, Guntars Paste worked hard in the backstage in attempts to get rid of him. And he succeeded. Now, all of them are ten seasons wiser and more cunning. Do you really believe that the person, who told everyone that he has the team in his pocket along with all the necessary cards for a good season, was happy to see Skudra return? I am certain that Skudra remembers everything. Let’s not forget that both Skudra and Paste have friends in nearly half of KHL teams. This means that this season the weekly club meetings will be more interesting than the hockey itself. Savickis did well by choosing a classic KGB tactic – both leading actors will keep an eye on each other until someone makes a mistake. And it’s clear what will happen next.
Independent journalis from Limbaži (Latvia),
Armands Puče especially for INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR COUNTERING RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA